NCIS Round Table: Has Tony Evolved?

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Director Vance received some disquieting news, Abby may have met a new love interest and Gibbs had to talk with the President about the team's latest case... all on NCIS Season 12 Episode 2!

Join TV Fanatic panelists Christine Orlando, David Taylor, Tanya Moat, Michelle Carlbert, Kathleen Wiedel and Douglas Wolfe as they discuss all this and more - and jump in below to join the debate...

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How would you describe this episode, in one word, or three (or more)?

Christine: Get your House in Order - that's 5. I'm feeling wordy today.

David:  Back to Basics (I stayed within the limit...this time! <grin>)

Tanya: Return to Normal.

Michelle: One Scare Too Many.

Kathleen: Conspiracies Great and Small.

Doug: It Wasn't the Wife.

What was your favorite scene or quote?  Why?

Christine: Vance's cancer scare. Maybe because it had a happy ending and I haven't seen much of those in real life when it comes to cancer.  It was a great wakeup call for him to get his personal life in order.  I liked that he shared it with Gibbs and Ducky. It showed how close they've all become and that they really are like family.

David: Tony realizing he called POTUS a wise-ass.  No further comment necessary. :-)

Tanya: Christine and David already mentioned two of my favorite scenes (Rocky Carroll nailed his scenes. It was great to see him be so vulnerable), so I'll choose Tony answering McGee's phone and seeing Delilah naked.

Michelle: I was going to say Vance getting the good news at the end of the episode (that cancer-scare caught me way off guard), but since that was already mentioned, I'll say that I really enjoyed Abby's interactions with Burt. It was cute to see her crushing on someone new, though I am curious if there's more to her deciding she didn't like him after all.

Kathleen: Most of the good scenes have already been mentioned, but I'd like to give a special shout-out to Gibbs sneaking up on that random NCIS agent, played in a cameo appearance by former NFL player Tony Gonzalez. (The scene is even funnier knowing that Mark Harmon himself used to play football - he was starting quarterback for the UCLA Bruins!)

Doug: My favorite scene - for a personal reason -  was the one with Bishop and Tony on the yacht. When she proudly showed him the hair tie and began talking to him about how she had so many of them herself, and about how she kept losing them everywhere, I burst out laughing. I've heard that monologue before, because my daughter has the same problem.  Every time she visits, she leaves a few of them behind. One time she visited me and then went to live in France for a year - so I gathered all of her hair ties, put them in a brown envelope and mailed them to her, with a label on the outside that said "daughter's debris".  So that scene brought back some great memories.

Did anything strike you as weak, or off? Explain.

Christine: The plot for the murder of the week. After 12 seasons it's going to be difficult to come up with something new but I just felt as though we've seen this all before. The most interesting part of it was the father and daughter finding the body in the beginning. And I really wanted someone to tear into that stupid kid with the fake knife who was the "polite mugger." He's damn lucky he didn't get himself or someone else killed.

David: Courtney Reed gets run off the road, escapes her sunken automobile, manages to make it to a nearby town AND complete a phone call to the victim?  Meanwhile, she eludes Tony and McGee for approximately 30 seconds before getting caught.  Oh, I know she HAS to get caught to advance the story, but it seemed downright ironic.

Tanya: I would agree that case felt a bit recycled, although it had a great start with the victim's connection to the President and Tony calling POTUS a wise-ass. So I was expecting an adrenaline-fueled, fun episode, but then it became same old, same old.

Michelle: I'll chime in about the case as well. Though to be honest, I pretty much never watch this show for the cases. The murder/kidnapping/whatever-of-the-week is just an excuse for me to see all my favorite characters interacting in new ways. I usually forget the plot within minutes of the final credits, but I remember the heartfelt scenes and funny things that happened between the characters.

Kathleen: I really wanted to see Gibbs ream the "polite mugger" for his complete and utter idiocy. Admittedly, this wouldn't actually add anything to the episode, but it would be so satisfying nonetheless. And I definitely agree with David in that Courtney Reed seems to have wildly inconsistent escape skills! And Tanya has it right: the episode started out well, with the POTUS bit, but I felt that the resolution was a bit of a let-down. My biggest problem was that I didn't find the corporation's murderous behavior all that believable.

Why in the world didn't they just try to pay Courtney Reed off instead of stalking her and attempting to kill her (and eventually killing the unfortunate Ned Wallace)? Obviously, billions of dollars in government/military contracts are at stake, so wouldn't it make sense to handle the situation quietly? And what actual evidence, aside from Courtney Reed's suspicions, did the team have that Tolson and Colford were behind the murders? Oh, yeah. Tolson's left handed. Yep, case closed!

Doug: Like many of the panelists, I just can't buy the case-of-the-week either.  It doesn't seem plausible to me that a company would be so worried about its reputation that it would resort to murder.  And it wasn't even the CEO who did it either - it was middle management!  It would be much more believable if they'd stuck with the age-old tradition of bribing troublemakers.  As so many evil antagonists have said before (so many times) "everyone has a price".  Plus, the plot was a majorly boring re-write of stuff we've seen before.

Has Tony finally evolved?

Christine: Tony will always be Tony but yes, he's less the frat boy than he once was. I loved Tony picking up McGee's phone. I didn't see that coming and Tony looked like he'd been burned the way he threw down that phone. I also liked that he later had to apologize to Delilah. I miss their friendship…probably more than I miss seeing her with McGee.

David: You know just when I think maybe he's evolving, he backslides. In addition to mouthing off to POTUS, answering McGee's phone, and the aftermath, all this should make him more cautious. Then again, this is Tony we're talking about.

Tanya: Yes. Tony without a sense of humor and mischief tendencies isn't the Tony we all know and love. But he's also matured and knows when to joke and when it's inappropriate (Well, sometimes. Baby steps). I was surprised when Tony didn't immediately pin the murder on the estranged wife, and I was even more pleased when he was right.

Michelle: That's a tough question because I feel that Tony's character was changed from who he was in the very early seasons. Yes, he was definitely funny and a little silly back then, but he still took his job seriously. Then suddenly he became a frat boy who did nothing but chase tail and make jokes and barely seemed to know his gun from a hole in the wall. I don't know where that guy came from but yes, I do believe that he has finally matured, while still keeping that sense of humor we all love.

Kathleen: As Tanya mentioned, Tony didn't immediately pick the wife as the murderer, and he was right! How many times over the past years has Tony said that it's always the wife? Regarding the scene where Tony picks up the naked phone call from Delilah - honestly, she shouldn't have called McGee at work if she didn't plan on someone else possibly seeing her in the buff. Here's a thought: what if Gibbs had gotten annoyed with McGee getting personal calls at work and told him to answer it while he was standing right there? Now that would be mortification. In the end, while Tony probably shouldn't have answered McGee's phone, he also had absolutely no way of knowing that Delilah was going to be naked at the other end!

Doug: I think he has. Although he's still prone to the occasional slip-up (ref. the "accidental voyeur" incident with Delilah), Tony is now the mentor to Bishop, plus he showing his instinctual knowledge of suspects.  Though he bragged to McGee about knowing that the culprit wasn't the wife, the fact is - the man was right.  And he stuck by his guns the whole way through. I'm digging the fact that we're seeing this side of Tony so much. If any of the series writers are reading this - keep it up!

NOTE: You can always watch NCIS online via TV Fanatic. Thanks for reading!

Douglas Wolfe was a staff writer for TV Fanatic. He retired in 2016. Follow him on Twitter

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NCIS Season 12 Episode 2 Quotes

Vance: Surgeon didn't pull any punches. He asked me if I had my life in order.
Ducky: And do you?
Vance: No. Since Jackie's death I haven't been able to focus. I haven't redone my will, nor have I made any provision for the care of my children.

Francis: Can I ask you a question, Bishop?
Bishop: Sure.
Francis: You enjoy working for Gibbs? I mean I heard he's tough. A real hard-ass. He's standing right behind me, isn't he?
Bishop: Yeah.